About, Musings on Life

Equity In Relationships

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When I was teaching, I received a muffin with the slogan above. It would be an understatement to say that I disagree with the saying. I find that this leads to burnout. We cannot ignore our own wellbeing to help others. We will lose ourselves in the process and then our longterm benefit is lost. I find we need to take care of ourselves and replenish ourselves to be able to give to others from a healthy and sustainable place. Our relationships need to be based on equity, not on one person losing themselves to help another. This made me consider the facet of equity in relationship and in creating connection.

A week ago, I wrote about risks we take when it comes to connection, and how we sometimes use gossip as a simple way to connect.

Upon further reflection I started to consider how sometimes secrets are overwhelming and it can be hard not to react or need to work through out thoughts with another. I consider gossip different than a secret in a couple key ways. First I consider intent, gossip in my mind is a way to discuss someone else in a way that makes you feel better and for your own gain. This dramatically differs from a secret, which is sharing something personal with you because you need someone else to process or because they do not want to be alone in bearing the burden. The second way I think they are different is that gossip is at another’s expense whereas a secret is usually a way to help someone else. In this way I think gossiping comes from a different mindset than a secret. A true friend I think will understand if we accidentally share a secret, if we forget. I think though we often do not consider our own words and we speak to grow our self esteem rather than because we really have something to say.

That being said I believe we often do not consider the consequences of our action in relationships. Often it is easier to be selfish and do what we need to do. Personally, I almost categorically refuse to keep secrets. I think we sometimes worry about small things and want to keep them secret so as not to let on our true purpose. I assume unless told otherwise that the things of my normal conversations with others are not secrets. Does this mean I share every intimate detail of the lives of my friends with others? No. I try to think if it is my story to tell. If someone shares a secret with me, I usually preface it with telling that person that I will be sharing it with my husband who helps me process the world. I do not think it is fair to burden others with our secrets and not allow them the space to process. I also think we need to start giving each other the choice. Asking if it is okay. We often think nothing of burdening others, we only see that it lightens our load. This is a selfish view of relationship. I think we assume those we connect with will always be there. We assume that those who are our friends will stay our friends. We do not consider the work of relationship, and in my opinion this is where we err. Relationships are work, they take time to develop. They need levels of trust, consideration, and kindness. We need to realize their value and stop treating others as our punching bags, we need to recognize when our anger is not about another person, but something we have put upon them.

I think we are a society that keeps too many secrets. These secrets lead to stigmas and unfair or untrue expectations. I share what I am willing to share and allow others to do the same. We need to keep in mind if it is our story to share. I am a fairly open person, but I find freedom in that, in being myself, in not pretending. I think it is possible for all of us to gain that freedom, but it is a risk and at times it does hurt. Though the gain of a true friend is worth it all. To have someone who supports you no matter what, good and bad, tough times and fun ones as well. That is worth the effort and the thought. Ultimately I think we run into trouble when we do not treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. As we deserve to be treated. When we consider ourselves superior or other people as beneath us, then we treat people without kindness and compassion and everything gets harder.

In this way, we need to consider how we can make our relationships equitable. How can we be honest to ourselves and the other person? How can we share and not burden? I think this takes time and finesse. The brave thing to do is to admit we make mistakes to be honest about our flaws. It takes strength to show other people we are wrong. I think our society often condones stubbornness as a sign of strength, but in reality owning our faults is what builds trust. Admitting our errors tells others we think about our action and we are trying, we may make mistakes but we are working to grow. What more can we really ask?

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